The English Beat: ‘A combination of all the music that ever turned us on’Written by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
With their frenetic, fun cover of “Tears of a Clown” in 1979, The English Beat began blending musical styles in search of the perfect hybrid of sound.
“We wanted a combination of all the music that ever turned us on, and we wanted to put that together in a way that would make people dance and then give our social opinion on a topic and try to get away with it whilst they were dancing,” said Dave Wakeling, singer and guitarist, with a laugh.
The group served up ska, reggae, soul, pop, punk and world music and landed on the charts in the early 1980s with “Save It for Later,” “Mirror in the Bathroom,” “Hands Off…She’s Mine,” “I Confess” and “Can’t Get Used to Losing You.”
“We never used any of the latest doodads; we used classical instruments and classical recording methods. And thank heavens we did because otherwise we’d have records with Japanese bamboo flutes (imitates one) like everybody else did,” Wakeling joked during a call from his home in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
Wakeling, guitarist Andy Cox, singer Ranking Roger, bassist David Steele, drummer Everett Morton and saxophonist Lionel Augustus Martin helped put together “Keep The Beat: The Very Best of The English Beat” and a box set titled “The Complete Beat,” which will be released July 10 by Shout! Factory.
The five-disc box set features the band’s three studio albums and previously unreleased material.
“There was some sort of kismet about [how the group came together]. It fell together so magically that you kind of had the sense it wasn’t going to last forever, you know, that you should make the best of it while it’s there, and that’s what we did,” Wakeling recalled.
“After three albums, you either really mean it or you’re pretending, and we were definitely pretending at that point. And because we were so grateful that we ever got a chance to start in the first place, it felt like it was the decent thing to pull the plug,” the singer-songwriter said.
Wakeling and Roger went on to form General Public, known for the songs “Tenderness” and a cover of “I’ll Take You There.”
Wakeling will bring The English Beat — drummer Rhythmm Epkins, bassist Wayne Lothian, toaster Antonee First Class, saxophonist Matt Morrish and keyboardist Kevin Lum — to Mickey Finn’s Pub for an 8 p.m. show June 21. Tickets are $25 and $30.
“I always dreamt of being in a group. I never thought anybody would hear my songs, and I love it best that people would still be interested in them 30 years later. It’s the most wonderful honor,” Wakeling said.
“I mean, the money’s great, and the fast cars and the fast women and all of that, but they all come and go. If a song says something to you, that means the world to me.”